Gene therapy is still in the experimental stage but is thought to show a lot of promise and could one day be effective for mesothelioma. To understand the basics of gene therapy one has to know a few basics about genes.
Each of us has something between 30,000 and 40,000 genes which determine our height, eye color etc. and are stored inside chromosomes, which in turn are inside body cells. Genes are made of a molecule called DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).
Digging deeper down into the microscopic level of our bodies, each DNA molecule is a string of thousands of little units called nucleotides. So the ever-smaller sequence goes like this:
- Body cells / chromosomes / genes / DNA molecules / nucleotides
The sequence of nucleotides in each DNA string (strand) is a sort of code which contains instructions to our body cells. This enables the body cells to produce various proteins such as enzymes.
Mistakes Can Happen in Gene Activity
There can be mistakes in the nucleotide sequence in a DNA molecule, and this is called gene mutation. The mistakes can be inherited. Results can be abnormal proteins, too much or too little of any given protein, or poor timing in protein production. This is how cancerous tumors begin.
Gene Therapy Takes Several Approaches
- Replacing a mutated gene with a healthy copy of that gene
- Inactivating mutated genes which are causing problems
- Bringing new genes into the body to help combat disease
Gene therapy is being tried for cancer, some inherited disorders, and HIV/AIDS. Genes can be introduced through an intravenous line to the targeted body area. Alternatively, body tissue such as blood or bone marrow can first be removed. Then in a laboratory they are allowed to multiply before the gene is introduced into them and allowed to multiply with the gene. The resulting tissue is injected back into the patient.
There are currently no FDA-approved types of gene therapy, but a great deal of research is being devoted to it. If you or a loved one are suffering from mesothelioma there are forms of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery that can be done. They can be combined with the newer treatments of Photodynamic Therapy or Immunotherapy (see previous blogs) for enhanced results.
To learn more about your legal rights and options in regard to mesothelioma, please call or email our experienced mesothelioma attorneys to schedule a free consultation.